On this day … 19 April 1659

At the Preston court leet, Ellen Haworth was warned that court officers would punish her by ‘bridleinge her through the Towne’ (with a scold’s bridle) if she didn’t mend her ways, after she had been ‘scowleinge and abuseing Mary, the wife of John Higham, with verry uncivell Language’.

A scold's bridle

There is no evidence that the bridle was in fact used on Ellen Haworth, and there is only one other mention of a possible use of the bridle in all the records of the court from the middle of the seventeenth century right through to the nineteenth.

However, the scold’s bridle, also known as a brank, was being used in Preston in the nineteenth century, according to the Preston historian Anthony Hewitson in his selection from the court leet records:

There used to be a brank at Preston House of Correction [the present Preston Prison]. About 1838 brank punishment at Preston House of Correction was discontinued. At the time referred to the brank had been put on a female prisoner there. By some means, the Home Secretary got to know of this, and directly afterwards-— in accordance with an order received by the Governor—the old gagging plan was discarded, and the brank sent to London.

The other sins and misdemeanours the court leet was handling on that 19 April were more run of the mill. The bailiffs were in trouble again for letting the cart way that became the present Deepdale Road fall into ‘great ruin and decay’. And they had not properly maintained the turnstile at the top of Mainspit Weind to keep horses and cattle away from the well at the bottom of the weind.

Decay was the also the issue with Mary Gradwell, who was taken to task for not repairing her house on Syke Hill. John Mitton, the grammar school master, had illegally railed off some land in front of his house in Friargate. And Silvester Ingham the younger had committed a ‘tustle and blood wipe upon the body of George Harrison in his own house’.

Oliver Atkinson who had been harbouring the bastard child of a foreigner was told that it should be ‘removed forth of this Towne’, so that it did not become a burden on the poor rate.

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬
(good luck with the spellings!)

1. The Cart way on both sides of Depdalls brooke to bee in great ruin and decay, notwithstanding sevall prsentmts made vizt. one of the Jury of the Leete in October 1656 the 20th pretmte that the then Bailiffs should have repaired ye lane, accodinge to the Order of the affearinger of the said presntmte by Mr Maior and Councell. Wee therefore desire the same may bee further considered of and the said way repaired in some convenient tyme this Sumere.

4. That Mary Gradell on the syke hill hath not repaired her house upon the towns Land there but suffereth it to goe to decay, accordinge to the 6th prsentmt of the last Leete, and of the 50th prsentmt of the lat Inquest therefore if not repaired before the i5th of August next to pay the sume of 40s and for default of evy Month after 20s. a Month.

5. John Mitton schoolmaster hath enchroached upon the Towns Streete by settinge railes before his Windows, at his house in the ffreergate in length five yards and a half, and in breadth two foot & three inches, to be rented at the discression of Mr Maior and his brethren.

6. Silvester Ingham the younger, for a tustle and blood wipe upon the body of George Harrison in his own house, therefore to pay 5s.

7. The now bailiffs for the neglect in their office accordinge to th 29th prsentmt of the last Inquest have not caused a stopp to bee set at the end of the Turne steele in the Weend leadinge downe to Minspitt Well, to prvent horses and catle for goeinge downe the same, And have not repaired the said Well and the stones set in ordr, As also have not paved within the barrs, from Barres to Barres, in needful places, as in Chur[ch]gate, ffishergate, and ffryergate, Therefore to pay for their Contempt 6s. 8d. a peece, and if not done before the 15th of August next 10s. a peece more.

8. Ellen Haworth, wife of Roger Haworth, for scowleinge and abuseing Mary, the wife of John Higham, with verry uncivell Language, to the bad example of others (if unpunished), as appeares by an Informacon, givien upon oath before Mr. Maior, Therefore to pay for this offence 2s. 6d., otherwise Mr. Maior is desired to cause the said Ellen punished by bridleinge her through the Towne or otherwise as Mr. Mair shall thinke fitt.

12. Oliver Atkinson for receivinge and keeping a Bastard Child of a fforeiner wch may in tyme become burdensome to this Incorporacon, if not tymely removed. Therefore the said Oliver Atkinson is to cause the said child removed forth of this Towne before the 15th of August next in paine of xxs. And for harboring the said Child for the tyme past to pay 6s 8d. And for eny Month after hee shall soe keepe the said Child to pay xxs.

David Berry’s on line transcript of all the court leet records: https://www.wyrearchaeology.org.uk/index.php/areas-of-interest/preston?view=article&id=162

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